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A Call to Action on Asthma

2010 April 9

Over 20 years ago, I worked in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) where every day I saw children in serious distress from asthma. Most got better, but some returned time and again…and a few never went home. It was heartbreaking; especially because in many cases, their distress could have been prevented.

I felt called to help children make changes that would allow them to lead active, healthy lives unencumbered by asthma symptoms – to give them and their families the knowledge they needed to take control of asthma. It was then that I transitioned my career to promote asthma education and empower communities to manage asthma. It was, and continues to be, my goal that not one more person dies from asthma.

At EPA, where I have worked for the last 13 years, that mission is shared. We have partnered with other federal agencies, national, state, and local nonprofit organizations and hundreds of communities nationwide to promote environmental trigger management as part of comprehensive asthma care.

Part of EPA’s activities include convening the National Asthma Forum; providing support to a growing network of community asthma programs; promoting community action and events during Asthma Awareness Month; and recognizing health plans, providers and communities that are addressing environmental asthma triggers with the National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management.

Our most important activity, though, is empowering individuals to control asthma through education. Everyone in a community has a role in helping people manage asthma. Here are some actions you can take:

  • Learn about asthma, environmental triggers and what you can do to control them.
  • Plan or participate in an Asthma Awareness Month event this May.
  • Talk to a nurse, the school board, the principal, the PTA or other leaders in your school district about how they can help students by controlling asthma triggers.
  • Encourage your care provider to attend the National Asthma Forum.

I’ll never forget the struggles I saw in the PICU that inspired me on my path with EPA to educate and empower families affected by asthma. I hope each of you will join me in taking action. What will you do in your community to raise awareness about asthma and spread the message about comprehensive asthma management?

About the Author: Tracey Mitchell is an Environmental Scientist with the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air’s Indoor Environments Division and works on the EPA Asthma Team.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. ABDULRASHEED permalink
    April 10, 2010

    Try to spread this message mostly in to thirld world countries where
    lot of people are suffering from this deadly diseas there.

  2. Al Bannet permalink
    April 10, 2010

    Ms. Mitchel:

    Almost everyone knows that asthma is mostly caused by air pollution and other toxic intrusions from our industrial economy. Obviously then, the only effective way to defeat asthma is to completely stop the pollution pumped out by the thousands of coal-fired power plants and the thousands of jet planes, but that would cost many millions of dollars and would not be approved by lawmakers and their corporate financiers. So, your purpose is defeated even before you start.

  3. murray mccory permalink
    April 10, 2010

    I grew up with my Dad who had asthma. It came and went, but he could not breathe enough to even sleep, sometimes. When he had a minor heart attack, asthma set in and he could not survive this last attack. It is a terrible, lifetime disease.

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    April 12, 2010

    Asthma can and does kill. It is not something to be fooled around with or to be taken lightly. I have friends who get attacks so bad that at times they have to go into the hospital for treatment. The environmental triggers are critical. The triggers can be the usual suspects of dust and pollin, but can also be from air pollution such as diesel particulates. Getting the word out is very important. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. jeniferjeni permalink
    April 13, 2010

    Most researchers believe that the different patterns of asthma are all related to one condition. But some researchers feel that separate forms of lung conditions exist. There is currently no cure for asthma and no single exact cause has been identified. Therefore, understanding the changes that occur in asthma, how it makes you feel, and how it can behave over time is vital. This knowledge can empower people with asthma to take an active role in your own health.

  6. maria permalink
    August 11, 2010

    Asthma is now a days is very common as it affects more on the lungs.One has to adopt the different aspects to overcome this.

  7. Alex Askew permalink
    September 6, 2010

    I suffer from astma, that comes and goes between years. Can anyone explain why it does this? Although it is mild compared to some of the comments above.

  8. test permalink
    September 9, 2010

    First comment, testing capabilities! test

  9. Robin permalink
    September 29, 2010

    According to you, what are best and easy ways to fight asthma during winters?


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